Suffering from diabetes or pre-diabetes can lead to serious health problems. By taking insulin and keeping our glucose levels low, we can cut that risk. However, clinically there is still a multiple risk attached to diabetes such as heart disease and stroke.
Diabetics need to control their blood sugar level and blood pressure to maintain a normal health condition. It has to be monitored regularly to be stable at a certain level as suggested by the diabetes expert. Besides, the patients need to continuously monitor their diet, keep themselves physically active, and take prescribed medicines only.
Clinically defined, a stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain comes to a sudden halt. A stroke usually results in speech or vision impairment, and in severe cases can result in paralysis of the body. Strokes are also caused by blood clots which form inside the body due to fatty acids. This can further narrow or block blood vessel in the brain or the neck. Diabetics are at an increased risk for strokes as blocking of blood vessels is a direct result of diabetes. A stroke, in turn, is also a result of a bleeding blood vessel in the brain. A break in the blood vessel may also occur as a result of high blood pressure, a condition called aneurysm.
It has been noted by medical experts that diabetics are at double the risk of suffering a stroke, in both the cases. Among middle-aged persons with type-2 diabetes chances of a stroke are higher. Similarity, women after menopause have higher chances of suffering from a stroke. But, in case of diabetics, women are more exposed to the risk of stroke as diabetes reduces the protective effects of a female body in reproductive years. In case of a diabetic woman, the menstruation cycle affects blood sugar levels. One week before and during menstruation may result in a fluctuation. Likewise, diabetes management can get very complex few years before the woman hits the stage of menopause.
If a diabetic has one stroke, the person carries a greater risk of suffering from a second attack. Even the risk attached after suffering from a stroke is more and in certain cases even fatal. Blood glucose levels also lead to deposits of fatty materials on the inside of the blood vessels. This may further lead to a condition of blood clogging and hardening of blood vessels.
Risk of suffering from a heart disease and stroke in diabetes may increase due to a family history of heart disease. If one or more members of your family has suffered a stroke at an early age (before 55 for men or 65 for women), you may be at an increased risk.
Reduce the Risk
Diabetics can take few measured steps which can reduce the risk of suffering a stroke.
1. Control extra weight. High abdominal fat leads to an increased production of bad cholesterol, which saturates the blood vessels. This blood gets deposited on the inside of the blood vessels; thus leading to an increased risk of forming blood clots in the body. On the other hand, HDL (good) cholesterol works to remove deposits from your blood vessels. So, maintain good cholesterol is important to reduce your risk of a stroke.
2. Follow a heart-friendly diet at home. Some simple steps at home can help you achieve this goal. Make an attempt to control your bad cholesterol with a high intake of fiber-rich foods. There are many daily consumption food items which are a rich source of fiber. Oats, whole-grain breads, including your whole-grain flours and cereals, peas, fruits, and vegetables will increase your routine dose of fiber. Take small steps to gradually increase the amount of fiber in your digestive system.
3. Quit smoking. Smoking can prove hazardous for people with diabetes. It leads to further clogging of arteries by narrowing down the blood vessel. Consult a doctor to help you quit smoking if you are a chain smoker.
4. Stay fit, healthy, and hearty. Exercise regularly to pump more blood. The ideal LDL level is less than 100 mg/dl.
5. Drink responsibly. Limit the amount of alcohol- one drink per day for women and two drinks a day for men. Continuously monitor your blood pressure , and take the doctor’s advice to keep it under control it if it’s high.
6. Say no to saturated fats. They raise your cholesterol level. Saturates fats are most commonly found in meats, butter, fatty dairy products, food cooked in coconut or palm oil. Consult a dietician to monitor your daily intake of saturated fat. Also, don’t binge on fast food as they are high in saturated and trans fats. Even, restrict your appetite on cookies, snack foods, fried food, baked goods, popcorns, fried food, as it a source of increasing cholesterol level in the body.
7. Regularly consult your doctor. You need to stay in touch with your doctor regularly to monitor your diet and other lifestyle aspects too. Insulin and other diabetes medications and pre-medications for a diabetic and are important to control your blood sugar levels. However, the effectiveness of these medicines hugely depends on the timing and size of the dose. A regular medical checkup is recommended to avoid any abnormality. Also, other medicines you take to treat conditions other than diabetes may affect your blood sugar level.
High blood pressure as a result of hypertension disturbs the normal functioning of the heart. The heart must work faster to pump more blood required by the other organs. This condition can in turn lead to straining of the heart, cause damage to the blood vessels, and increase your risk of stroke.
Dealing with the Problem
Taking prompt treatment-within the first 3 hours after you experience the initial stroke symptoms is clinically essential. Doctors prescribe a clot-buster drug called tPA for ischemic stroke. This drug treatment helps in dissolving a clog in an artery. However, there is a serious limitation for people who have had a major surgery in the previous 2 weeks for this drug intake. There are more drugs under development and consideration to reverse the brain damage caused by a stroke- if taken immediately after a stroke. It is medically advised to keep your heart and blood vessels in a healthy condition, to cut the high risk for heart disease and stroke.
Taking preventive medicines on the advice of your doctors is also permissible. A daily low dose of aspirin has been advised by medical experts. Diabetics can benefit from low doses of aspirin (81 mg - 325 mg a day) to maintain a stable heart condition. However, take aspirin strictly on the recommendation of your doctor, as it is not safe for everyone.
For transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or mini strokes be sure to avail a prompt treatment. This form of a stroke is a strong sign to prevent a major stroke later. Symptoms of a mini stroke may be experiencing a sudden weakness, loss of balance, numbness, confusion, blindness in one or both eyes, double vision, difficulty speaking, or a severe headache.. Early treatment can only help avoiding a big future disaster.
Diabetics may suffer from hypertension and any kind of stress or extra pressure may lead a drastic rise in the level of your blood sugar. It also becomes difficult to follow your diabetes management routine if you are suffering from stress or that extra pressure on your mind.
Similarly, simple steps to monitor blood pressure at home keep it under check. Make sure make certain lifestyle changes to avoid potential stroke risk and other health disorders as a result of suffering from high blood pressure.
By : Dr Satnam Singh Chhabra
Chairman, Nuero & Spine Surgery
Sir Gangaram Hospital,New Delhi